The Missouri School Violence Hotline is trying a new way to generate tips.
The telephone hotline has received hundreds of valid reports from across the state every year since it was created in 2001. Jennifer Hunter says it’s only natural for the program to adapt to the times, and take the same idea online with a new program on its website called “Report It!”
“With this online tool, kids can now go to the school computer and use it this way. A lot of hospital social workers like to use this when it’s late at night. So this is really just been developed as a way of convenience for the other parties involved,” Hunter said. She’s the Supervisor of the School Violence Hotline.
Just like the on the phone line, the Department of Public Safety wants students, parents and teachers to use the program to report fights, weapons at school, thefts, and bullying: all anonymously.
“To me bullying is just as serious as bringing a weapon to school because when kids have to go through that type of harassment, it is harmful to them. We have a lot of cases where kids have been bullied just three times and they’re already having suicidal thoughts. So anything big or small,” Hunter said.
She says in some cases the tips are a part of the bigger picture for the school and law enforcement officials the hotline works with.
“The principal might have more information or law enforcement sometimes have found that they’ve seen some activity out on the street, gang activity, or somebody having fires or trying to make little bombs, or at school they’re having some behavioral issues. So they’re able to link those things together and put more evidence to get kids some help that really need it,” Hunter said.
She says the online program was partially created from a suggestion by school officials, who pointed out it might be against school policies to use a cell phone to call the hotline at school; but a student would likely have easy access to the internet in the building.
“This is probably their preferred means of communication. So we’re going to open that up to them and see if this is a better resource for them than having to pick up the phone and call,” Hunter said.
For those who want to report an issue the old fashioned way, the hotline is 1-866-748-7047.